Terrorist Sympathies of Young Americans Prove Harder To Erase Than TikTok Videos Praising Bin Laden

Relying on slogans like ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Never Again’ hasn’t done the job of educating young people about 9/11 and the Holocaust. Many have been left asking just what they’re supposed to remember.

AP/Mazhar Ali Khan, file
Osama bin Laden in 1998 at a news conference at Khost, Afghanistan. AP/Mazhar Ali Khan, file

A troubling number of young Americans support Hamas, credit the October 7 attack for converting them to Islam, and praise Osama bin Laden’s justification for the 9/11 attacks. If children are the future, then it may not be one where Western ideals of liberty reign.

Last week, praise for bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America” took TikTok by storm. Forbes reported the use of the hashtag #LettersForAmerica went to almost 14 million from over two million in less than 24 hours, forcing the app — a product of Communist China — to remove the posts.

At the New Internet, Jeff Morris wrote that he’d attempted to “reverse engineer the TikTok algorithm, as I am convinced this is the reason we’re losing the information war with high school & college students.”

A Pew Research Center survey last week found almost a third of adults under 30 “regularly get their news” from TikTok. On the app, pro-Palestinian hashtags, Mr. Morris wrote on X, earned three billion views while pro-Israel hashtags garnered a couple hundred million.

The trends are a symptom of a larger problem, reflected in a Harvard survey last month that found that 51 percent of Americans between 18 and 24 justify the October 7 atrocities which, like the 9/11 attacks, targeted civilians.

On the one hand, young people object to collateral deaths of civilians in Gaza. On the other, they accept collective guilt as Western civilians themselves because, according to Bin Laden, America supports Israel.

“One reason TikTokers seem so startled by bin Laden’s ‘rediscovery,’” the Sun wrote in an editorial on Thursday, “is they have never heard an explanation for the 9/11 attacks other than that his followers ‘hate our freedoms.’”

Relying on slogans like “Never Forget” and “Never Again” hasn’t done the job of educating young people about 9/11 and the Holocaust. Many have been left asking just what they’re supposed to remember.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and bin Laden’s letter filled that void, which is no longer stuffed with a love of America as a beacon of enlightenment. A Gallup poll in June found that just 18 percent of persons between 18 and 34 are “extremely proud” to be American, compared to 50 percent of those over 55.

The way America commemorates 9/11 reflects how telling its story has been left to the terrorists. Declared “Patriot Day” by Congress in 2001, it was renamed “National Day of Service and Remembrance” in 2009. This year, it was truncated by AmeriCorps and others to just “Day of Service.” 

President Biden, marking 9/11 in Alaska rather than at Ground Zero like his predecessors, played a part in undermining its significance. By comparison, December 7, 1941, has lived in infamy for more than 80 years because remembrances have a singular focus on the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Since October 7,” the Free Press reported on Saturday, “young Americans have been professing their devotion to the Quran in ‘the ultimate rebellion against the West.’” Against just what are these young people rebelling?

Last week, the host of “Real Time with Bill Maher” said that Western Civilization has given the world “pretty much every … liberal precept that liberals are supposed to adore.” Mr. Maher listed “individual liberty, scientific inquiry, rule of law, religious freedom, women’s rights, human rights, democracy, trial by jury,” and “freedom of speech.”

Since these can be found “virtually nowhere else in the Middle East,” he said, “if anything, the world would be a better place if it had more Israels.” Of lamenting “the toxic fruit of the victimizing West,” Mr. Maher noted that “all marginalized people live better today because of Western ideals, not in spite of them.”

The New York Sun

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